RNC: Iraq And Its Costs, From The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON , April 7, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is an op-ed by Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham and is being issued by the Republican National Committee: When Gen. David Petraeus testifies before Congress tomorrow, he...


WASHINGTON , April 7, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is an op-ed by Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham and is being issued by the Republican National Committee:

When Gen. David Petraeus testifies before Congress tomorrow, he will step into an American political landscape dramatically different from the one he faced when he last spoke on Capitol Hill seven months ago.

This time Gen. Petraeus returns to Washington having led one of the most remarkably successful military operations in American history. His antiwar critics, meanwhile, face a crisis of credibility - having confidently predicted the failure of the surge, and been proven decidedly wrong.

As late as last September, advocates of retreat insisted that the surge would fail to bring about any meaningful reduction in violence in Iraq . ...

Gen. Petraeus will be the first to acknowledge that the gains in Iraq have come at a heavy price in blood and treasure. We mourn the loss and pain of the civilians and service members who have been killed and wounded in Iraq , but adamantly believe these losses have served a noble cause.

No one can deny the dramatic improvements in security in Iraq achieved by Gen. Petraeus, the brave troops under his command, and the Iraqi Security Forces. From June 2007 through February 2008 , deaths from ethno-sectarian violence in Baghdad have fallen approximately 90%. American casualties have also fallen sharply, down by 70%.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has been swept from its former strongholds in Anbar province and Baghdad . ...

In the past seven months, the other main argument offered by critics of the Petraeus strategy has also begun to collapse: namely, the alleged lack of Iraqi political progress. ...

In recent months, the Iraqi government, encouraged by our Ambassador in Iraq , Ryan Crocker , has passed benchmark legislation on such politically difficult issues as de-Baathification, amnesty, the budget and provincial elections. ...

And, in launching the recent offensive in Basra, Mr. Maliki has demonstrated that he has the political will to take on the Shiite militias and criminal gangs, which he recently condemned as "worse than al Qaeda." ...

Most importantly, Iran also continues to wage a vicious and escalating proxy war against the Iraqi government and the U.S. military. ...

These continuing threats from Iran and al Qaeda underscore why we believe that decisions about the next steps in Iraq should be determined by the recommendations of Gen. Petraeus, based on conditions on the ground.

It is also why it is imperative to be cautious about the speed and scope of any troop withdrawals in the months ahead, rather than imposing a political timeline for troop withdrawal against the recommendation of our military. ...

[H]ad we followed the path proposed by antiwar groups and retreated in defeat, the war would have been lost, emboldening and empowering violent jihadists for generations to come. ...

It is unfortunate that so many opponents of the surge still refuse to acknowledge the gains we have achieved in Iraq . When Gen. Petraeus testifies this week, however, the American people will have a clear choice as we weigh the future of our fight there: between the general who is leading us to victory, and the critics who spent the past year predicting defeat.

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